President Donald Trump wants NASA out of the International Space Station by 2025. In its place, the administration wants private businesses to take over the operations instead.
The U.S. government funding for the space station would end by 2025, according to the 2019 proposed budget released on Monday. The Trump administration is also setting aside $150 million to encourage commercial development.
NASA has already spent around $100 billion on the orbiting outpost since 1990s. The first piece was launched in 1998. The complex was completed when NASA’s space shuttles retired in 2011.
But private businesses are already involved in the NASA project. After the end of the shuttle program, NASA turned oversupply runs to the commercial sector. SpaceX and Orbital ATK have made deliveries since 2012. Sierra Nevada will start shipments with its crew-less mini shuttles for a few years.
Space X and Boeing are also developing crew capsules to fly astronauts to and from the space station, targeted for the next year. Such commercial flights will become the first astronaut launches from the U.S. soil since NASA’s shuttles ceased flying.
Some have criticized the move of transferring NASA operations to the private sector including Florida Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson who rocketed into orbit in 1986. He said: “turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space makes no sense.”
Under the 2019 proposed budget, a slight increase in NASA’s budget to $19.9 billion is sought. Around $10 billion is targeted for human space exploration and to “pursue a campaign that would establish U.S. preeminence to, and around, and on the moon.”
The budget underscores that the government gives renewed support on returning humans to the moon, followed by human expeditions to Mars.